Benjamin Foster Seeks Victims on Dating Apps, Oregon Police Department Says : NPR

An undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster, who is wanted by authorities for attempted murder, kidnapping and assault.


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A man accused of kidnapping and assaulting a woman in Oregon – years after he was accused of holding another woman captive in Nevada – remains active both on the run and on dating apps, authorities say.

Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, is considered an “extremely dangerous suspect” and is wanted for attempted murder, kidnapping and assault in Grants Pass, a town of about 40,000 in southwest Oregon, according to the police department.

Police have been tracking Foster since Tuesday, when they responded to a call about an attack on a home and found a woman who had been “bound and severely beaten unconscious.” She was hospitalized in critical condition.

The suspect, who they said was identified as Foster, fled the scene before officers arrived, sparking a manhunt that led authorities to an unsuccessful raid on the unincorporated community of Wolf Creek on Thursday. They say Foster “evaded capture and likely received assistance escaping the area” even though they confiscated his car and other evidence and arrested a 68-year-old woman for “obstructing law enforcement.”

Police have set up a tip hotline and are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to Foster’s arrest and prosecution. And they warn he could be looking for more victims or helping evade authorities, including by posing as a potential suitor.

“The investigation has revealed that the suspect is actively using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting individuals who may be tricked into helping the suspect escape, or possibly as additional victims,” ​​the department said Beware and warned anyone who helps Foster escape could be prosecuted.

Police said on Sunday that Foster could try to change his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or changing his hair color, and urged the public to pay attention to his facial structure and blue eyes “since these traits are very are difficult to change”. They shared several photos of him with different lengths of head and facial hair and plan to post more as they become available.

Dating apps say they’re looking for Foster, too

The companies behind several popular dating apps have told NPR that they are looking for accounts with Foster’s name but have yet to find any.

A spokesman for Match Group, which owns Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, Match and Plenty of Fish, said in an email Monday afternoon that it had no information to confirm Foster is on its platforms, but that it will continue to investigate.

Bumble told NPR via email that his team “has been working around the clock to identify all members based on the information we have at the time” and found no one on the app with Foster’s full name has.

“Any time we become aware of a media report, we proactively work to determine if the member is in our community and take swift action on their account,” it added.

Most dating apps don’t do criminal background checks. As of late last year, four Match Group websites β€” Tinder, Match, Plenty of Fish, and single-parent dating app Stir β€” have allowed users to complete background checks with the Garbo platform, provided they have at least their partner’s first name and phone number .

Match Group expects this feature to continue rolling out to other brands in the US. It also touts safety features like photo verification, anti-harassment prompts, and their user reporting process.

Non-profit sexual assault organization RAINN offers safety tips for anyone using dating apps to connect online or meet in person. These include: look up your potential date on social media, block and report users for suspicious behavior, don’t respond to requests for financial help, choose a public place for your first meeting, and don’t rely on your date for the Transport.

Foster held his then-girlfriend captive in her Las Vegas apartment years earlier

Details about the case and Foster’s criminal record have come to light in recent days.

Citing statements by prosecutors in court filings, The Oregonian reported that Foster had attempted to kill the Grants Pass victim while “deliberately torturing her” and locking her “in a place where she was unlikely to be found.” A fundraiser for the woman, who has not been publicly identified, said she is 35 and suffered serious injuries to her face and neck, she added.

Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman said at a news conference last week that she was being held for a “long period of time”. The victim and suspect had a “previous domestic relationship,” according to Hensman. The Oregonian.

In 2019, before moving to Oregon, he held his then-girlfriend captive in her Las Vegas apartment for two weeks, The Associated Press reports — while serving a suspended sentence for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and at trial was waiting in a 2018 domestic violence case.

Citing a police report, the Las Vegas woman said she suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and injuries from being tied up with cable ties and tape at her wrists and ankles. She told police Foster also forced her to eat the chemical compound lye, choked her into unconsciousness, shaved her head and required her hands to remain “in constant contact” with his body when not restrained.

She managed to escape from Foster after persuading him to take her and her dog to a grocery store and gas station, and reportedly sprinted through a store and into a nearby apartment complex while he was distracted and the dog out left the car.

Foster was originally charged with five felonies, but reached a settlement with Clark County prosecutors in August 2021 that allowed him to plead guilty to just one felony count of battery and a number of counts of domestic violence.

After serving decades of imprisonment, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years, including the 792 days he spent in prison awaiting trial.

Hensman stressed at the press conference that law enforcement is focused on finding Foster and bringing him to justice, calling it a “laser-focused” and “all hands on deck” operation. He said there will be time to investigate what happened during and after Foster’s time in Nevada.